Written by Jagat Bali Author
Jagat Bali News - Attractive Places
Divers visiting Bali can now send postcards from a mailbox on the bottom of the sea. The Reef Check Foundation and state-owned postal firm PT Pos Indonesia have initiated a submarine mailbox in the popular underwater site of Jemeluk beach, Amed, Karangasem regency, to raise marine conservation awareness. The fully functional mailbox is the second one in the world, the first being placed in Australian waters.
It was installed by PT Pos Indonesia, the national postal company, in conjunction with the Reef Check Foundation, and charity which works to protect the marine environment as a way to raise publicity. The mailbox was installed last week 20 meters offshore and 5 meters deep, making it easy for divers and snorkelers to reach. Through the mailbox, people can send postcards using special waterproof cards available at diving centers and several post offices to any country in the world. A group of journalists went to the site last week to see the mailbox, which is made of concrete and weighs around 3.5 tons, and demonstrated how they could insert cards into the box.
“Basically, this box functions like an ordinary mailbox. People can send postcards by inserting the waterproof cards to into the box. An officer from PT Pos will go underwater to check the box everyday and take the cards to be sent to recipients in any country in the world,” said Derta Prabuning of Reef Check, who accompanied the journalists.
He said this initiative was carried out to support the conservationists and local people’s ongoing effort to preserve the beautiful underwater site. “This move is also expected to raise local pride in the abundant potential at the site as well as to attract more tourists to explore the site and to contribute to the conservation effort. We chose Amed as the location for the submarine mailbox because it has relatively small waves and because conservation efforts in the area have been going well, thanks to support from the local community. This is the first submarine mailbox in Indonesia. Vanuatu in the Pacific Islands, as well as Malaysia and Japan also have submarine mailboxes, but in different shapes and made of different materials”, he added.
The box weighs 3.5 tons and 2.5 meter tall, features traditional Balinese carvings. It was made by Wayan Winten, a Balinese sculptor who is famous for his masterpiece Dewa Ruci statue. The mailbox scheduled to be operating this November. Reef Check and PT Pos will hand over the mailbox to the local community on the coast so the people can participate in maintaining the facility. “We will also add a signboard and other supporting facilities on the beach,” Derta said.
Amed has some of the highest coral biodiversity in Bali, thus being included in the area known as the Coral Triangle. Many locals and foreigners come to the location for diving and snorkeling.
“With its ecological and economic potential, Amed could be one of the best destinations in Bali, but it should be balanced with our efforts to protect the coral reef and the entire marine ecosystem,” said Naneng Setiasih from the Coral Reef Alliance. “To make people more aware, they need to get involved frequently with the underwater ecosystem through various unique activities,” she added.
“We cooperate with divers in Amed who would take the letters from the sea floor,” said Managing Director of Pos Indonesia, I Ketut Mardjana at a news conference at the General Post Office in Denpasar. When asked why the Indonesain post office chose such a remote location, the director replied that “Amed had a beautiful underwater environment that attracted numerous divers”. He explained that it would not be possible to put a similar box in a location like Jakarta. “Who wants to go diving there?” he said.
The post box has a flat rate of Rp 10,000 for a letter that can be shipped anywhere in the world. Special waterproof envelopes and stamps are made available in order to send your underwater package. The total cost of setting up the aquatic postal apparatus costed the Indonesian post office Rp 25 million to install. Waterproof postcards will be on sale locally.
Pupung Purnama, an official from PT Pos Indonesia’s Bali and Nusa Tenggara office, said the submarine mailbox would not only be a unique postal service method, but also a tourism attraction to raise people’s awareness to conserve coral reefs in Amed.